Police have arrested three suspects, including main accused Saifur Rahman, in a case filed over the rape of a woman in Sylhet's MC College.
Saifur was arrested from Chhatak in Sunamganj early Sunday, although he had disguised himself to avoid arrest.
In the morning on the same day, the district detective branch of police arrested Arjun Lashkar, fourth accused in the case, from Mantala border area of Madhabpur upazila in Habiganj, confirmed Madhabpur Police Station Officer-in-Charge (investigation) Golam Dastagir.
Arjun was trying to flee to India, he added.
Police also arrested another suspect named Rony yesterday night.
Saifur and Arjun are MA students of the college and activists of Chhatra League. Four other accused in the case are still on the run.
Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Sylhet Metropolitan Police's Shahporan Police Station Abdul Qayyum said, "Police are trying to arrest the accused. Several teams of police are working all over Sylhet. Two have already been arrested. Efforts are underway to arrest the rest."
The victim was produced before Sylhet Metropolitan Magistrate Court 3 at noon on Sunday and she gave a deposition with details of the incident.
Meanwhile, Sylhet city people continued agitating on Sunday, protesting the rape incident.
Several organisations staged demonstrations in different parts of the city and demanded immediate arrest of the accused, identification of their patrons, and resignation of the feeble administration of MC College.
Local Awami League leaders have also been vocal in demanding justice.
A protest meeting was held at the Sylhet City Corporation with the mayor and councillors taking part in it.
The meeting decided to organise an awareness programme in 27 wards of the city with the participation of citizens' representatives, politicians, guardians and law enforcement agencies to build social resistance against such crimes.
After the meeting, Mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury and councillors marched towards the Sylhet Metropolitan Police Office from Nagar Bhaban.
On Friday afternoon, a couple from South Surma in Sylhet went to visit MC College. Five to six leaders and activists of Chhatra League grabbed them, brought them to the dormitory, and beat them up both. Later, he tied her husband and raped her in front of him.
The next day, the victim's husband filed a case against nine people at the city's Shahparan police station, naming six people. All the six accused are Bangladesh Chhatra League activists. They are Saifur Rahman, Mahbubur Rahman Rony, Tarek, Arjun Lankar, Rabiul Islam and Mahfuzur Rahman. The victim is currently admitted to the OCC centre of Osmani Hospital in Sylhet.
Seven of the nine accused in Khagrachhari gang-rape arrested
Khagrachhari police arrested seven people on charges of robbery and gang rape at a residence at Balpeiya Adam in the district on Thursday night, said Mohammad Abdul Aziz, police superintendent of Khagrachari, at a press conference on Sunday at his office.
The arrestees are Nurul Amin, 40, of Taichala Para of Ramgarh upazila, Mohammad Antar, 20 of Daroga Para, Belal Hossain, 23, of Khagrachhari municipal area Cumilla Tilla, Abdul Halim, 28, of Ganjpara, Iqbal Hossain, 21, of Boro Pilak area of Guimara upazila, Md Shahin Mia, 19, of Paschim Boro Pilak area, and Abdur Rashid, 38, of Dakshin Muslim Para in Matiranga upazila.
Police also recovered cash, gold ornaments, mobile sets, a numberless auto-rickshaw used during the robbery, and a shovel used for breaking the door of the victim's house. The operation to arrest two other accused was underway.
The culprits also looted cash and gold ornaments from the house. After the robbery and rape, they went to Matiranga, said the police official.
"There are several cases against each of the arrestees. Many of them are also accused in rape cases. All the robbers had met each other in jail. There they formed a band of robbers. After being released from jail, they got involved in crimes again," added Abdul Aziz, police superintendent of Khagrachhari.
He went on saying, "A total of nine people participated in the pre-planned robbery. They took all the necessary information before committing the crimes. They broke down the door with a shovel, entered the house, and tied up the three people in the house. Then, they raped the mentally-challenged girl and continued looting."
"The case was important as there were two crimes – robbery and rape. We have all necessary information. Those who have committed crimes will be punished," said the police superintendent.
On the night of September 24, a group of robbers broke into a house at Balpeiya Adam in Khagrachhari town, tied up everyone in the place, raped a mentally challenged female, and robbed the house.
According to Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a rights body, from January to August this year, at least 899 women and children were raped by perpetrators across the country. And in September, the figure has already climbed to at least 35, several media reported.
Some 1,413 women and children were raped in 2019 and the number was 732 in 2018. Prior to that year in 2017, another 818 women and children had to face the rape trauma, it added.
Sociologist and Dhaka University Professor Towhidul Haque told The Business Standard that rape incidents have increased alarmingly after the countrywide shutdown was lifted.
"I urge law enforcers to remain more alert to thwart rape incidents," he added.